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08 January 2019

Swiss Parliament: 2018 Proposals on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection

Swiss Parliament:  2018 Proposals on  Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection
Towards Better Health, 8 January 2019

In 2018, at least six motions/interpellations were introduced by elected officials to the National Council of the Swiss Parliament to protect the population, including users of mobile telephony devices, from exposure to electromagnetic radiation.

Earlier in 2018, for reasons of health, the Council of States voted not to raise limit values for mobile telephony installations.  Groups supporting the motion included the Federation of Swiss Doctors, Doctors for the Protection of the Environment (MfE), the Federation of Swiss Patients and the Swiss Farmers' Union. See Press Release from MfE.

Each day, the delay or failure to take simple precautionary measures to reduce electrosmog, of which much of the population is unaware, brings us closer to serious illness, electrohypersensitivity, and other conditions, and serves only to increase the profits of the mobile telephony industry.

Interpellation 18.3622, introduced by National Councilor Silva Semadeni on 14 June 2018, "Radiation-Emitting Devices Close to the Head and Body", is one of the rare legislative proposals raised by a national parliament mentioning the industrial and health scandal of Phonegate. There is reason to hope that this and the other initiatives relating to mobile telephony will be more seriously considered by the new Federal Councilor for Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications (DETEC), Ms. Simonetta Sommaruga.  She was executive director of the Foundation for Consumer Protection in 1993 and its president from 2000 to 2010.  During past terms in the Swiss Parliament, she introduced proposals on non-ionizing radiation and protection of the health of the population.

We thank the Swiss legislators for raising these issues.

Following are summaries / extracts of proposed legislation:

18.3622 Interpellation - Radiation-Emitting Devices Close to the Head and Body
- Introduced by: SEMADENI SILVA on 14 June 2018

“Electronic devices that can be worn in contact with or close to the body and produce a permanent electromagnetic field are increasingly available on the market: computers, laptops, tablets, headphones, watches or various devices that measure physical activity (pulse, step, etc.). And the phenomenon will continue to intensify (clothing, glasses, virtual reality equipment, etc.). However, users are not always aware of the long-term health risks of these electromagnetic fields…

“A French study (Phonegate scandal) revealed that the specific absorption rate (SAR) values of most mobile phones were respected in optimized laboratory measurements, but not during daily use near the body. The different proceedings won by people with brain tumors related to the professional use of cell phones should invite caution. Insurance companies exclude risks related to electromagnetic fields from their policies, among other things because they have been on the World Health Organization's list of carcinogens for years.”

Ms. Semadeni's interpellation asks the Federal Council what measures it has taken to address the long-term health risks posed by radiation-emitting devices worn on or near the body and whether it shares the view that it should actively and regularly inform consumers of these risks, so that they can choose for themselves if they want to be exposed to them. It also asks, “what the possibilities are, at the level of legislation or technical requirements, to oblige manufacturers, importers or retailers to ensure that the devices concerned are easily recognizable to consumers (labels, indications on packaging, details in instructions for use or in advertising, etc.)."

18.3966 Postulate : Declaration of non-ionizing radiation
- Introduced by SEMADENI SILVA on 27 September 2018

In its response to National Councilor Silva Semadeni’s interpellation, the Federal Council wrote that it "would ... appreciate it if the industry could voluntarily indicate the radiation (SAR values) emitted by products worn close to the body, as was the case for mobile phones. This would give consumers the opportunity to purchase low radiation equipment." However, Ms. Semadeni points out that the Federal Council has a major responsibility for the marketing of radio equipment and the definition of limit values and also to inform the public. It cannot simply rely on the manufacturers.

Motions 18.3855 and 18.3856: For a better consideration of health in the mobile telephony sector (I) and (II)
- Introduced by ESTERMANN YVETTE on 26 September 2018

The Federal Law on Protection against the Dangers of Non-Ionizing Radiation and Sound (LRNIS) stipulates that the health risks to humans and animals must be clearly indicated… The damages caused by mobile telephony require clear regulation, based on the principle of causality, according to which injured parties and persons seeking advice should now only be advised by neutral persons...

According to art. 65, para. 1, of the Swiss Constitution, relevant data on the health of the population must be collected in relation to radiation generated by mobile telephony and possible electrosensitivity.

The Federal Council is responsible for not raising the limit values applicable in Switzerland, not even due to a new measurement procedure. In order to prepare for a technological shift, an alternative to 5G must be sought immediately.

18.4147 Interpellation (in French): Working group on mobile telephony and waves : mandate and composition
- Introduced by HARDEGGER THOMAS on 6 December 2018

On 20 September 2018, Doris Leuthard, then Head of the Department of Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications, announced in a press release that she had decided to set up a working group to analyze the needs of mobile telephony and radiation risks, particularly in the context of the introduction of 5G technology.

Mr. Hardegger states that while the ICT sector, physicians and federal offices are well represented in this working group, the sectors of insurance, agriculture and veterinary medicine are not. Research institutions and associations of electrosensitive persons are not represented at all.

18.4148 Motion (in French): Mobile phones and other wireless devices – reduction of electromagnetic waves and energy consumption
- Introduced by HARDEGGER THOMAS on 6 December 2018

"For energy and health reasons, it is necessary to oblige manufacturers, distributors and installers to select only [wireless] models equipped with an automatic standby mode with reduced radiation and energy consumption. The devices must be configured before they are placed on the market."

by Meris Michaels

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